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Realtors in Little Neck plant 6,000 U.S. flags

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When Mohsen Zandieh looks back on his 1970 arrival in America from his native Persia, he does not recall the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island or the Manhattan skyline.

Instead Zandieh savors the memory of his first slice of pizza and his first girlfriend — both of which he found in Little Neck.

“I walked in the U.S. for the first time in Little Neck,” said the longtime merchant, smiling.

So when it came time for Zandieh, a realtor, to establish his business, Northern Boulevard in Little Neck was “a natural choice,” he said.

That’s how Arash Real Estate Co. at 251-12 Northern Blvd. began nearly 20 years ago, said Zandieh, a Long Island resident.

But Zandieh has done more than help people find places to live in northeast Queens and parts of Nassau County. The realtor has worked hard to be a part of one of the most patriotic communities in the borough.

For the past three years Zandieh, longtime office manager Paula Gerber of Little Neck and his staff of realtors set out on foot, walking the streets of Little Neck and Douglaston just before Memorial Day to plant a small American flag in each lawn.

Before blanketing the neighborhood with 6,000 red, white and blue flags, Arash Real Estate participated in the Little Neck-Douglaston Memorial Day parade by sponsoring free food at the end of the annual march.

Later Zandieh took on an even bigger role by sponsoring the FDNY’s Emerald Society Pipe Band for what is believed to be the nation’s largest Memorial Day parade. In 2002 Zandieh and his employees also marched in the event under the banner “We salute our fallen heroes.”

“I do it because I feel a part of the community,” said Zandieh, who also donates turkeys to the poor at Thanksgiving. “I take pride in being a part of it.”

Arash Real Estate has been a part of the community for nearly two decades, and Zandieh and his staff have watched the relatively stable neighborhood change somewhat over the years.

“The community has changed and it still is changing,” he said. “There is a lot of diversity.”

Gerber said “Little Neck and Douglaston is still a wonderful community.”

When it comes to quality-of-life indicators such as clean streets, low crime, a strong police presence, low city taxes, proximity to Manhattan and good schools, Zandieh and Gerber said Little Neck and Douglaston top the list in nine categories used by realtors to rate neighborhoods.

Real estate prices throughout Queens and Long Island have been skyrocketing in recent years, and Zandieh and Gerber said the soaring costs of homes and properties in Little Neck and Douglaston reflect both the attractiveness of the neighborhoods and the scarcity of undeveloped land.

Some new property owners in the communities have begun a pattern of knocking down existing homes on the plots they buy to construct much larger dwellings. The practice has riled residents throughout the communities, who see the huge buildings as out of character with the neighborhood.

But those at Arash Real Estate said the positives of the community and the strength of northeast Queens’ School District 26 — the top performing district in the city — have helped spur the building boom.

“People would rather build a big house here than go to the island,” Gerber said.

Zandieh said “it still is a bright future for Little Neck and Douglaston. It’s a safe community. The trend is the community would strengthen as time goes by.”

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